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Floods hit New Mexico towns as state gets slight storm break before more rains expected

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ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico — Flood waters struck parts of Albuquerque and other New Mexico cities on Tuesday as the state prepared for another storm system Thursday that forecasters say may bring more heavy rain.

Severe storms sparked floods in Albuquerque's South Valley and pockets of eastern New Mexico, closing roads and causing minor damage.

The Santa Fe New Mexican (http://goo.gl/WgPHT5) reported that heavy rain in Rio Arriba County swamped two dozen homes north of Alcalde and swelled the Pecos River south of Santa Rosa to more than 11 feet deep.

PHOTO: Rain falls on vehicles heading southbound on Interstate 25 near Bernalillo, N.M., Monday, July 28, 2014. (AP Photo/Albuquerque Journal, Roberto E. Rosales)
Rain falls on vehicles heading southbound on Interstate 25 near Bernalillo, N.M., Monday, July 28, 2014. (AP Photo/Albuquerque Journal, Roberto E. Rosales)

Teresa Lopez, a staffer with the Rio Arriba County Emergency Management Office, said that on Monday evening, drainage from an arroyo had flooded the village of La Villita north of Alcalde and eroded a 4-foot-deep gully through County Road 1025, exposing natural gas lines. About 20 homes were flooded or affected by mud, she said.

Meanwhile, drought-stricken lakes and reservoirs around the state reported jumps in elevation because of the heavy downpour. Sumner Lake in eastern New Mexico, for example, rose to an estimated 5 feet in a day, officials said.

In Roswell, residents worked late Tuesday to place sandbags around homes to keep the water from soaking inside after another day of heavy showers that brought nearly 3 inches of more rain.

New Mexico should see a short break in severe weather following a string of days of heavy rainfall, the National Weather Service said. But more storms are expected to hit the state again Thursday and over the weekend, forecasters said.

The rain has made this month one of the wettest Julys on record for New Mexico, officials said. For example, Albuquerque International Sunport has already reported 3.3 inches for the month, making it the airport's fifth-wettest July on record.

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